BAY OF RETRACTABLE ISLANDS
MISSION FOR THE MAINLAND
From Evanescent Extremes
Back to the Book of the Lord
Moving from the
wandering islands of extremes in diversity,
one reaches the biblically bound doctrines
that have gravity and peace
A More Advanced Coverage,
of more topics than those found in
Omitting the Evanescent Extremes,
and Taking the Picture from the Book,
Ministering Peace to His People, His Body, His Church
Rev. Dr. Robert E. Donaldson
PUBLISHED BY WORLD WIDE WEB WITNESS Inc.
0 9802972 6 5
There is a useful work in Christian Apologetics. It is this. Many have differed for long periods on certain important areas of the Christian faith, to be mined from the Bible. In fact, much is so apparent, that it takes considerable legal skills to subvert it in even a slightly plausible fashion, for those whose ears itch.
However, there are ten special areas where divergence is unnecessary, and where colour patches on the arms of combatants make it appear to many, almost unthinkable that one should yield. It is the fighting corner syndrome, where tradition, pride, custom and inertia alike, or in any assemblage, may make actual truth seem distant, or at least far further removed than should be the case.
It is apparent as these ten areas, or arenas are considered, that the trend, in anything approaching biblical exegesis, is to move from one extreme, jarring on the original statements of the Bible, and then, often with reaction, to the other. In these cases, various philosophies may appear, either directly or indirectly, behind the distortions; but what tends to disappear, is the biblical text.
Amazingly, unless one considers the see-saw effect, it nearly always appears in the end, that neither extreme is right. Not arbitrary, but careful examination of the text usually reveals a warranted position which is some distance from each extreme. It seems in general,
that each either
1) ignores some important feature of the text, or
2) adds some desired feature to it, or
3) uses a philosophic leverage, bounded by low levels of imagination, to distort the issue, or
imagination, inserts thoughts not merely at odds with the Bible, but with each
When such interesting but unfruitful exploits are discarded, a clear message remains.
Before we examine this, however, there is a further preliminary point to note.
It must be confessed at once, that it is indeed possible to seek from the Bible, information it does not choose to disclose, and this is a fifth possible route to error, and thence to differences and division. There are in the biblical perspective, of course, various areas of freedom, for we are not computers, helpless without direction; and the Lord can indeed teach if He will, by giving adequate principles, but allowing in some cases a diversity of application, depending on the case.
That is not situational ethics, but application of principle to practice, where the spiritual nature of the ingredients, with impact from the principles or command, have the appropriate outcome. Pour caustic soda into sulphuric, and you are likely to get sodium sulphate; into hydrochloric, and common salt is one result. The principles are the same; the results depend on the input situation.
These requirements of clarity and care can test humility, but also stimulate perception. Frequently, a PRINCIPLE is enunciated, of a generic kind, and some will ignore this in interpreting what is covered by it, as if they forgot it was there; but the Lord does not forget.
Nevertheless, this having been conceded, there are areas where very clear direction or perspectives, pronouncement or rules are given in the Bible, where first by this and then by that error, presumption in tradition, assumption in theology, dismissal by oversight or even by a desire to ignore: woeful error is achieved. The word of God is true, but the effort of man fails.
Such lapse in turn tends to beget woeful reaction, resistance or conflict, which may produce traditions and pride, in that inimitable concourse of feeble futility with much sound, which became a particular object of the Saviour’s acute criticism (as in Mark 7:7ff., and Matthew 23). The Pharisee and the Sadducee in Jesus’ time on earth, provide an excellent example. Moved according to taste (additives at will), they conclude what they will, and then fight on the difference, often nothing to do with the Bible, but everything to do with what they want to do with a position anterior to it, and thrust into it. It then becomes at times a site for argument, in which the Bible itself has relatively small input!
As far as Christian Apologetics is concerned, it is a useful task therefore, to look at these ten areas of discourse and division, where it goes so far that even different traditions tend to arise, give to themselves tags, and then beget tag war. Some tags tend to gain repute as sophisticated, some as sophomoric, some as sedated, some as the proud impact of philosophy, seeking to gain a class as if from the Biblical text, and to add to its pupils.
Removing those wraps and trappings, and returning simply to what is written, then, one seeks to find what is certainly, centrally taught, to avoid what one may wish were taught, but is not, or were not, but is, and then without any additiveness or omission, to adhere simply to what is the residue of reality. Then it may be found how it relates to what is claimed competitively in the wars of the supposes! As we find that the extremes tend merely to obscure the actualities of discernment controlled by the sure text, this tends to lead to a moderate approach.
This seems strange, perhaps, to some; but the point is this. When the extremes go, this does not allow for exegetical purposes, the simple result of choosing the middle: of course not.
Yet when the extremes without biblical warrant DO go, the biblical impulsion as dynamically driving to a result, does tend to be some distance from both extremes. It is in that sense that it appears in some cases, simply moderate; but moderation is the result, and accuracy is the cause.
When this work is done, it is found that there is a MILIEU of HARMONY and a PARADE of PEACE. The Bible does not give ground for the extremes, but its misuse gives understanding to how they have arrived.
When the issues then are resolved by return in simplicity to the biblical text, without being tagged by tags or ordered by tradition, though one may become unpopular with those of the extremes, both of which may fire and pound, yet there is the necessary result. The Biblical presentation comes through clearly; and without the adornment of imagination or the deletion of desire, it speaks in one consistent manner, never varying from the vision, the holiness and the grandeur of the vision. It is coherent, consistent and commanding (cf. Isaiah 55:4).
It must be made clear that we are not in this volume, entering so much into what is an ADMITTED departure from the interpretation of the Bible THROUGH ITSELF ALONE as basis, with neither addition nor subtraction from the text from whatever human source or authority or in terms of whatever human claim. On the contrary, as to emphasis we consider what claims to be from it alone and to be true to it. Nor are we here considering as elsewhere, religions which junk or gain adjunct, relative to the Bible, whether they be called Christian or acknowledge their disparity; nor are we, after writing so many volumes to demonstrate its truth, at this point concerned at all with what wants to alter the text.
Co-authors with God are really comic. The disproportion is so acute!
It is the text, the text only and the text always which is in view.
One aspect may need further definition. It concerns an approach which is unwilling to imagine what more might have been meant, if only it had been said, or what less, if only something had been omitted. Seeking what MIGHT be implied is not amiss, so long as this is realised to have nothing to do whatsoever, with biblical TEACHING!
If then we seek to confine ourselves in teaching (as in Matthew 28:20), to what is certainly demonstrable from the biblical text, as we do, then a name for this emphasis is: NUCLEAR MEANING.
In a figure, this has a message. It simply signifies that various 'electrons' which come and go, shades and possibilities, are not taken at this level, but only what in the 'nucleus', has sure meaning.
If it is felt that the main meaning is specifiable in some way, it may be pointed out that more may be intended, and seems to suit the thrust of the passage; but then the nuclear meaning before this is shown distinctively, so that each element may be realised. If you want the SURE, it is intended that you can find it. That is what is to be taught.
Again, if something which may be an additional thrust of a passage is found to be explicit somewhere else in the Bible, this will increase the wisdom of regarding such a possibility where it is less sure. However, only what is certain is presented as doctrine, whether taken from this or that place. As the Westminster Confession indicates, if a thing is not so sure in one place, we can look in another.
What then happens when this nuclear approach is taken, seeking zealously to avoid plus and minus operations in teaching, but adhering like super-glue to the text, while seeking UNDERSTAND in the light of all scripture, the spiritual thrust as well as the formal point ? If this thrust confirms itself from what is written, well; if it is merely possible, this too is to be borne in mind. Only the former reaches the level of actual teaching, whether imported from a clear passage elsewhere, or present on site.
From this, the result is such a harmony of concepts, some challenging as a good teacher tends to be, to students who grow too self-assured, but all clear, that it speaks of the marvel of the mind of the Writer, the wit of the Author and the kindness and grace which both instructs us, and keeps us humble, by making the task one requiring self-control, and control by His word. On this, see also the pair of volumes, LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST
On biblical hermeneutics, see further Sparkling Life ... Ch. 10.
Other religions, whether sects, Romanism, Islam or more broadly spaced, are dealt with in their place (e.g. SMR pp. 1032-1088H, More Marvels … Ch. 4, SMR Ch. 10, Ch.9, Impossible for Men, Open to God Ch. 3 - overview, Things Old and New, Errors). In the volume, we are to the contrary, expressly dealing with what ostensibly or apparently limits itself to the Bible.
As to the ‘islands’ in view, they are here listed.
In Chapter 1, six are covered.
1. THE ISLANDS OF TRUTH AND TRADITION –
2. PREDESTINATION, LIBERTY AND LOVE,
4. PSALM SINGING,
In Chapters 2 and 3, more
is provided on Islands 2 and 4, while in Chapter 3,
a later survey of the terrain of Island 2 is presented.
In Chapters 4, 5 and 6, we come to
Chapter 6 specialises in a little peak on Island 7, namely dispensationalism.
Chapter 7 regards the outlines of Island 8, Guidance,
8. GUIDANCE, while
Chapter 8 we arrive at the wonderful island,
9. LAW, GRACE AND THE LORD
This is an island group, including the
the Old-New Testament Sacrament Blitz, and
the Super-and Pseudo-Sanctity Hitch
Chapter 9 brings us to the inspiring Island 10, covering the Scope and Unity of Isaiah
10. SCOPE AND UNITY OF ISAIAH
This adds several chapters, 9-14.
11. PROPHESYINGS AND MOUTHING PAST THE LORD
12. DAY AND WAY OF REST
13. ECUMENISM and ECUMANIA
14. ISRAELIS, ISRAEL AND THE LORD, THEIR RETURN, HIS RETURN
Chapter 20 is different.
In it three major mountains, including the Everest, appear. They are not islands at all; but some on the islands seem at times to imagine that they belong to some island, having a poor perspective.
In fact, they are
which impressing themselves high into the atmosphere,
appear from every island, capping all.
These are those of the Trinity
and the Deity of Jesus Christ;
the Substitutionary Atonement, and
the Bodily Resurrection of Christ.
for this newer and far more extensive treatment of the ISLANDS and the MAINLAND
As this is a Biblical work, within Christian Apologetics, it is fitting to see the payload which is gained, at least in scope.
Thus the LIBERTY which is to be found in the Lord (II Cor. 3:17), is seen in the Psalm contribution and the doctrinal constraint in church singing, but excludes the unqualified licence to restrict the way in which the songs of the Lord are given, any more than one could hope to restrict those who sang in the Temple (I Chronicles 25), who are not shown to be so limited, as to Psalms. On the other hand, the licence to amplify the faith into novelty via hymns, is no more given than that to restrict to forms, and the preaching of the word would as soon become to read scripture, as the singing to be to sing only Psalms.
The LAW is as bound today as ever, but its scope is amplified, its spirit is essentialised and its fulfilments are applied to the status quo; while the FREEDOM of the gift of salvation is a sure now as ever in David’s day (Psalms 32, 51, 71), and faith, nor works, remains the genesis of it, for it takes what is freely offered, and being offered all, stands (Romans 5, Psalms 32, 21).
Sacramentalism is as certainly condemned now as ever (cf. Questions and Answers 2), but sacraments, when derived from the Bible alone, are as sanctified. The ATTITUDE of God in the Old Testament is not mutable, in principle, though as the sacrifice of Christ comes into history, there are adaptations of what had been apt before, but would be obsolete now (Hebrews 8 - as for example circumcision, which involved both blood and sacrifice), while the principle remains unchanged. Indeed, God is not changeable and is not appreciative of BEING changed by the word, whim or theology of man. Moreover, in Ezekiel 36 (cf. It Bubbles … Ch. 10, SMR Appendix A ), you see the convicted, coming and cleansed Jew being sprinkled with water, a verification of the obvious, with just that delicious certitude which adorns the word of God, which moves from Covenant to Covenant, when the prediction is for the New Testament era, making adjustment as the case comes and the divine wisdom sees fit to unveil in direct terms, what is to come.
Baptism is as excluded as a mode of salvation as any other ceremony scathingly excluded in terms of misapplication, in Isaiah 1, and indeed in Jeremiah 9:25-26! which is near to a statement in advance of I Peter 3:21; for the wisdom of God does not change, nor do His morals, principles or perfections of understanding. Indeed, cleansing symbolised, signified but not enacted by the ceremony of baptism is as confirmed to the principles of God throughout the Bible, the immutable and beautiful God, as was circumcision in its day – you could be uncircumcised in heart, just as you can be baptised in body, as Peter shows, without having the witness of a good conscience to God through the resurrection of Christ. These two are different things, and the one that counts in terms of spiritual placement is not the symbolism of washing: it is the witness.
It is THIS, says Peter, which is the baptism which saves, concerning a good conscience before God through the resurrection of CHRIST – just as it is of course the same in the Lord’s Supper which counts, for as Christ put it in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit which gives life: the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” As to ‘eating’ Him, what if He should return to heaven! He pointed out (John 6:62). It is not dipping or sprinkling as such which matters, and it is not this which saves child or adult: for it is all one. It is not bread which saves either. It is faith in the finished work of Christ, once performed (Hebrews 9-10), in Him who purchased eternal redemption, it is this which is functional (Romans 4:25-5:1, Galatians 3).
It is not to be found in insistences on WHOLE washing, for it is adequate, as Christ told the astounded Peter, that hands and feet be taken, as in the priestly cleansing. Symbols do not save, and attempts to expand them in some kind of picturesque or semi-sacramental manner, from the age-old sprinkling and total family situation do not fit with all of the Bible, or any of its principles. It is therefore good that God has shown what is to be in Ezekiel 36, as the Jews come back to the New Covenant, one from which those who come will never again move (Ezekiel 37:24-26)! It is this which involves their willing participation in the Messiah, the slain and rejected Messiah (Isaiah 49:7, 52-3), to whom at last they come (Zechariah 12:10).
So too the Lord’s attitude to the child may be changed only by God, who is changeless in principles, and He has said this in mutation on that topic: ZERO. To say it for Him, is mere liberty framed into the very picture of pageantry. Households were the criterion and this they remain, the critical term in no ways changing (Acts 16).
Best leave it all to God. His word is always true, applicable and to be heeded, whether in avoiding the Pentecostal excesses of many tongues as if a psychic release in a psychological clinic, in flat contradiction of the word of God in I Cor. 1 and 12-14, or in the novelty of excluding children from covenantal access (cf. Deuteronomy 29:10-11), or spiritual hymns from church song.
The liberty to speak in tongues, once differentiated from ‘new tongues’ is sure; but its importance is also sure compared with teaching and salvation: it is relatively very unimportant. It has however a function, and the liberty of God once again, insists on its being available for man if he will, just as much as it insists that man desist from glamour and excitable diversifications of worship in the name of so limited a gift.
Guidance is as free as in the New Testament as in the Old, but is not associated with new revelation for all men, as that is finished (Revelation 22, Galatians 1). The millenium does not disappear because some may like an elegant seeming little end to the play; and its scriptural force needs to be realised as indispensable, for God does not have His wings clipped because of humanly conceived aerodynamics. Yet it must be seen in the PRINCIPLES of grace and unity and immutability of the word, way and salvation of God. It is not as if what is statedly the obsolete is taken from its deposit place and becomes functional, or as if what is discarded as a preliminary, became a final finesse! Such is the result of studying what is written, and of considering the principles which the Lord enunciates alike.
Victorious Christian living remains as far from self-assertive self-assurance of sanctity, as does specious humility of spirit from lugubrious defeat, masquerading as self-deprecation.
Isaiah is shown is as intensively coherent from one divine Author, as the plays of Shakespeare from one human author. The more effort is made to fragment it, the less the fragments stand; and the more it is made to be conditioned by time, the more its time becomes stable, as wrought at one life time, and taught for many!
On all sides and in all things, there is something apart from the extremes, which often have had much, understandably but not justifiably, to stir and stimulate them into existence, as correctives to slackness or self-praise and autonomy of spirit. It is a return to what is written, without tradition either ACKNOWLEDGED or merely implemented without acknowledgement for what it is, that shows the consistency of principle and purity of substance which the Scripture contains. It neither sanctions severities invented, nor laxities fermented. It stays the same; and when it is ruling apart from any other entrant of text, or excision, then it is not only clear. It is then so harmonious in the word of God itself, that like some vast architectural construction, its very diversities excite admiration for their consistency of concept, comprehensiveness of coverage and brilliant diversity of imagination in presentation (cf. Hosea 12:10).
PITH FOR INTRODUCTION
Here is cause for pondering the wonder of finding concerning the biblical exegesis of many areas, when desire and hypothesis are remote, and text and its exigencies are near, when liberties are excised except on the part of the Author of the Bible, is not only clear, but explains the thrusts this way and that, which some have made. We find that the extremes in multiplied instances, which have become traditional in much routine pugilistics concerning the Bible, become almost like 'wheelies'. That is, the undue thrust on one aspect tends to obscure the equally valid aspects often ignored, either in one direction or the other.
Multiplied stances and postures are resolved, but above all, biblical fidelity shows intense biblical inner conformity and wonderful attestation of its divine authority and origin.
When these trips to the outer seas are over, then the islands which they created can be retracted back to the mainland of what is written. The concept of the 'nuclear' meaning, which is not merely likely, but in essence demonstrable, is prominent in this presentation. Imagination and preference are not useless, for they may stimulate a basis for understanding, and thirst for exploration; but they do not count in teaching, in what may be bound, and to stir ideas, some of which may be true, although this is not at the outset known.
In the teaching per se, which is to relay the word of God, they can have no place.
For PREFACE to earlier treatment of Islands
and its text
For the Current Work, see below.
THE FIRST SIX HARMONIES
INITIAL LOOK AT SIX ISLANDS … Commencement
TRUTH AND TRADITION,
PREDESTINATION, LIBERTY AND LOVE,
PRELIMINARIES TO PREDESTINATION
MORE ON PREDESTINATION
AND ON MUSICAL ELEMENTS
Harmony in Predestination
and Freewill is a Prelude to Felicitous Functionality
in the Topical Coverage of the Bible
THE SEVENTH HARMONY
MORE ON MILLENIAL MATTERS
THE LITTLE PEAK OF DISPENSATIONALISM, ON THE MILLENIAL ISLAND
THE EIGHTH HARMONY
See also Ch. 8 below.
THE NINTH HARMONY
LAW, GRACE AND THE LORD
THE TENTH HARMONY
ISAIAH’S INTEGRAL AND ARRESTING VISION
See also in this Section…
MOVING ON TO THE TENTH ISLAND
THE ISAIANIC ISLAND IS REALLY A VAST ALPINE REGION
ISAIAH: THE CHILD AND THE COVENANT,
ISAIAH; NOT AN AGENT OF ANGST
BUT A PROCLAIMER OF TRUTH
EXCURSION INTO ISAIAH 59-66
Something of Freedom!
THE ELEVENTH HARMONY
PROPHESYINGS AND MOUTHING PAST THE LORD
RECEIVED IN UNRULINESS AND APPLIED IN PRESUMPTION
SURGINGS PAST SCRIPTURE INTO AN UNHOLY HINTERLAND
EASILY CONFUSED WITH THE TRUE: Watch therefore!
The answer is given not in scriptural infidelity, or super-spiritual rovings or ravings,
but in biblical principles, text and constraint, applied in practice with zeal and prudence
in the fear of God.
THE TWELFTH HARMONY
DAY AND WAY OF REST
The 12th Island
DAY AND WAY OF REST
While this may
be seen as part of island 9, Law, Grace and the Lord,
it has ramifications and heights
which make it worthy of separate existence.
THE THIRTEENTH HARMONY
ECUMENISM AND ECUMANIA
THE FOURTEENTH HARMONY
ISRAELIS, ISRAEL AND THE LORD, THEIR RETURN, HIS RETURN
and the Final Confrontations, Comradeship and Culmination ...
Staring the facts in the face, rather than tying them in name-tag bundles.
CONFRONTATIONS, COMRADESHIP AND CULMINATION
completing the work of Ch. 18.
which some at times imagine to be on an island
TRINITY, AND DEITY OF CHRIST
BODILY RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
FOR THOSE WHO RECEIVE CHRIST ONLY
which some at times imagine to be on an island